Scottish exams cancelled as schools across Scotland prepare to close
All exams for Scottish school pupils have been cancelled this year for the first time in history, the Education Secretary has confirmed.
John Swinney said cancelling the exam diet for the first time in more than 130 years was a “measure of the gravity” of the current challenges faced as a result of Covid-19.
The Education Secretary has also confirmed that local authorities are taking measures to protect vulnerable children who rely on schools for hot meals or a safe and supportive environment and that children of key workers will have continuing access to learning or childcare.
The Scottish Government announced on Wednesday that all schools in Scotland will close on Friday and said they could remain closed until the summer.
Pupils will be graded through a combination of the results they received in their prelim exams, along with teacher judgement and existing coursework, instead of the SQA exams usually sat in May.
This will be the first time the exams have been cancelled since the system was put in place in 1888.
Swinney said: “My priorities are to ensure the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff, and to maintain teaching and learning wherever this is possible, guided by the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and public health experts.
“Teaching, learning and support will continue – albeit in different ways for different groups of children. For the majority, this will be through distance learning and online learning, with different forms of on-going contact with teachers rather than in-school, face-to-face. Teachers and other staff who are well will continue to be working.
“For vulnerable children and those who have parents or carers employed as key workers, local authorities are developing approaches to support them. We will not cut adrift vulnerable young people who often rely on school life for hot meals or for a safe, nurturing and supportive environment.
“Parents are not expected to be a teacher or to recreate the school day - your school will be giving you some resources and suggestions as your first port of call.
“It is a measure of the gravity of the challenge we now face that the exams will not go ahead this year. With the support of the wider education system, a credible certification model can be put in place that can command confidence in the absence of the exam diet – to ensure that young people in our schools and colleges who through no fault of their own are unable to sit exams, are not disadvantaged.”
Local authorities are being encouraged to work with local childcare providers in the private and third sectors to ensure ongoing provision to enable key workers to remain in work.
Funding will continue to allow contractual payments to private and third sector providers, including childminders, for statutory early learning and childcare hours to continue. This is worth £220 million to the childcare sector in 2020-21.
A £70 million food fund from the support package for communities announced yesterday will support access to food, including provision of free school meals. Pupil Equity Funding will be relaxed to allow headteachers and local authorities to support the most vulnerable childrens’ needs during this time.